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Reality Round-Up: Let Justice Prevail

Where is the love? (Infosecurity)

Where is the love? (Infosecurity)

As Valentine’s Day weekend officially comes to an end and people return to work, so do the hands of justice, which seem to be working overtime based on some of the headlines I’ve read. Some criminals await trial for their transgressions; some face their day in court; and some continue to victimize innocent people while law enforcement closes in on them. Take a gander at some of the stories that show how the love of the weekend has been overshadowed once again by the hate and fear of crime in America.

Some things never change, I suppose.

SUNBURY, PENNSYLVANIA

Elytte and Miranda Barbour were married in October 2013 and had one very dark desire in common: they wanted to kill someone. And three weeks later—after placing a companionship ad on Craigslist—the couple got what they wanted.

Based on the promise of sex for $100, 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara responded to the ad and met Miranda in a mall parking lot on November 11, 2013. He jumped into her Honda CR-V and headed for Sunbury, presumably for the aforementioned sexual relations, but instead found death waiting for him. Elytte was hidden in the back seat and quickly wrapped a cable cord around LaFerrara’s neck while his wife stabbed him 20 times. His body was discovered the next day in the backyard of a Sunbury home.

The Barbours wanted to kill (AP)

The Barbours wanted to kill (AP)

Fortunately, the last number dialed on LaFerrara’s cell phone led authorities to the Barbours, who were arrested and charged with criminal homicide, among other things. They both pleaded not guilty and currently reside behind bars, but things took a dramatic—and more disturbing—turn on Friday when Miranda granted an interview to a reporter from Sunbury’s Daily Item.

According to Miranda—who said she joined a satanic cult in Alaska when she was only 13—LaFerrara wasn’t her only victim. In the past six years, she claimed to have participated in as many as 22 murders in Alaska, North Carolina, Texas and California.

“When I hit 22, I stopped counting,” she told the reporter. “I can pinpoint on a map where you can find them.”

As you might expect, authorities are taking her claims very seriously and have been working with law enforcement officials in some of the states mentioned to determine whether or not they could be true. A source close to the investigation did call Barbour’s claims “conceivable” and said they could be “the real deal.” Only time will tell if this is indeed the case, though.

In response to this horrifying situation, I offer only one piece of advice to readers: stay the hell away from Craigslist. You may be able to find some good bargains there, but given all the criminals who target visitors to this popular website, spending a little more at a brick-and-mortar store seems like a much safer alternative.

WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS

On Wednesday, Julie Corey of Worcester was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2009 slaying of her friend Darlene Haynes, who was eight months pregnant at the time. Haynes’ strangled and beaten body was found in her apartment on July 27, 2009—with her unborn child cut from her womb, no less.

Corey was arrested in New Hampshire, along with the baby she stole (WMUR-TV)

Corey was arrested in New Hampshire, along with the baby she stole (WMUR-TV)

Thanks to DNA evidence collected at the scene—as well as a fingerprint left on a bottle—police were able to connect Corey to the killing and found her several days later in New Hampshire… with the baby. She claimed to have given birth to the child at a Massachusetts hospital, but some of her friends became suspicious and contacted the authorities, who quickly caught up with and arrested Corey. She now faces a maximum sentence of life without parole and will appear in court on Tuesday to receive her punishment.

“This woman was killed for her baby,” Worcester County District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. said recently. “It’s probably the most horrific case this office has seen.”

Horrific doesn’t even scratch the surface of this one, I’m afraid. There certainly are some sick people in the world.

JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI

Another woman heading to jail for a long time is Natasha Stewart—also known as Pebbelz Da Model—who was convicted of culpable negligence manslaughter on January 31st and sentenced to seven years in prison late last week. She was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit manslaughter in the death of Atlanta’s Karima Gordon.

Pebbelz Da Model, as her friends know her (MS News Now)

Pebbelz Da Model, as her friends know her (MS News Now)

Stewart apparently took $200 from Gordon in exchange for referring her to a “nurse” who provided silicone buttocks injections—injections she herself claimed to have gotten more than 20 times. Sadly, the injector was not a nurse and Gordon died a few days after getting the shots. The official cause of death was silicone in her lungs.

I guess this goes to show you that when it comes to medical procedures—even ones that may cost and arm-and-a-leg to get done—the best place to go is to a licensed professional, preferably at a hospital or private practice. Have we learned nothing from the back alley, coat-hanger abortions of old?

WENTZVILLE, MISSOURI

On a lighter note—as light as criminal activity can be, I mean—we end in Missouri, where police are currently hunting a serial flasher. The man described by witnesses as a white male in his mid-twenties with short hair—who drives a dark blue or black truck—has exposed himself to a number of women. And police fear that his crimes may escalate if he isn’t apprehended soon.

The most serious incident happened in a Walmart parking lot on February 6th as a woman was leaving the store. She got into her car and seconds later, the door flew open and she came face-to-face with the flasher’s junk. When she screamed, the man shoved her back into the car and fled. Unfortunately for him, placing hands on his victim changed an indecent exposure charge to assault. And since surveillance footage provided police with a clear shot of his license plate, it’s only a matter of time before the cops catch up with him.

Then he can expose his genitals to his cell mate, who may be more responsive than his female victims.

Do victims of a serial flasher even look at his face? (Wentzville PD)

Do victims of a serial flasher even look at his face? (Wentzville PD)

Yes, the love of Valentine’s Day is a wonderful thing, but now it’s back to reality and the evil that men do. And when the Reality Round-Up returns, I hope it’s for stories much more positive and uplifting than these.

Chalk it up to the “Monday blues” since I’m in the throes of them as we speak!

Fly the Upskirt Skies

Bad Bartsch got busted (Nashville Police Department/AP)

Bad Bartsch got busted (Nashville Police Department/AP)

I guess they will let just anyone be an air marshal these days—including 28-year-old Adam Bartsch, an amateur cell phone photographer with a penchant for “upskirt” photos.

In case you didn’t know, upskirt photos are taken under the skirts of unsuspecting women in the hopes of catching a glimpse of their private parts. Collections of these photographs are posted all over the Internet on endless sites, which have been popular for some time and never seem to go out of style.

Wearing pants on the plane may be best (Q13 Fox)

Wearing pants on the plane may be best (Q13 Fox)

The funny thing is that you never expect the people taking these kinds of photos to be law enforcement officials, but that’s exactly what happened with Bartsch, whose hobby got him into hot water this Thursday.

While on duty aboard a Southwest Airlines flight preparing to depart from Nashville International Airport, Bartsch was spotted using his cell phone to snap pictures under women’s dresses by one of the already-seated passengers. The woman immediately snatched the phone away from him and alerted a flight attendant, who had security remove the kinky air marshal from the plane a few minutes later.

According to police, Bartsch confessed to taking a dozen naughty photos during this incident, but also admitted to a prior incident, which also took place while he was on duty. Needless to say, he was charged with disorderly conduct, held on $10,000 bail and removed from his duties by the Transportation Security Administration—which also plans to terminate his employment soon.

Flight attendants could have prevented this, you know? (upskirt-video.org)

Flight attendants could have prevented this, you know? (upskirt-video.org)

And for what? A handful of upskirt photos he could easily have downloaded online by the hundreds. What a jackass.

Of course, Bartsch isn’t the first law enforcement officer whose perversion led him astray. In April, a former police officer in Lowell, Massachusetts pleaded guilty to using his badge to solicit sex from prostitutes, also while he was on duty. Aravanh Lakmany admitted to more than 20 separate occasions when he would pick up a whore, drive her to a secluded area, and then either pay or force her to have sex with him. Those who complied were even permitted to “work” in his area later without fear of being arrested, and least not by him.

Now this looks like my kind of flight! (mangosucker)

Now this looks like my kind of flight! (mangosucker)

What a scumbag. Fortunately, Lakmany is heading to jail for the next two years and won’t be able to enjoy the company of hookers for a while. What he will get to enjoy, though, is a different kind of company… and not the kind he’s likely to enjoy quite as much.

No one said a career in law enforcement would be easy, but please learn to control your urges, gentlemen. And save the sex-fueled power trips and badge-flashing for the bedroom, would you?

Escaped Con Killed by Hostage

Police at the scene in Bedford (Des Moines Register)

Last Friday, convicted burglar Rodney Long escaped from the Clarinda Correctional Facility, a minimum security prison just southwest of Des Moines, Iowa.

Minimum security is right since this guy just walked away without so much as an alarm sounding.

On Sunday, the escaped convict was seen walking along a rural highway. A deputy stopped to confront him, at which time Long pulled a gun, shot the officer twice and then sped off in his patrol car.

I’m not quite sure where he found a weapon, but chalk that up as another benefit of minimum security. Hell, he could have had the gun in the prison, for all I know.

Following the shooting, a second deputy chased Long for roughly 40 minutes, but the pursuit ended abruptly when the fugitive crashed the car and escaped yet again. He eventually made his way to the home of Jerome and Carolyn Mauderly, a retired couple in rural Bedford whose house is very secluded—it’s surrounded by cornfields and the closest neighbor lives more than a mile away.

Long broke into the Mauderlys home around 10 p.m. while they were sleeping. Jerome Mauderly, a former prison guard and farmer, even had a loaded shotgun on the floor beside his bed—everyone in the area heard about the prison break and prepared accordingly, which means they loaded and readied their weapons. Unfortunately for Mauderly, though, he didn’t have a chance to use his… at least not at first.

The couple awoke to find Long standing there, loaded shotgun in hand. He immediately disabled the landline phone and left only the phone in their bedroom operational, most likely so he could speak with negotiators if his presence was discovered by the authorities.

For the next four hours, Long held the couple hostage while he rummaged through their home for supplies, all the time using their cell phones—who he may have been calling, I have no idea. Fortunately for the Mauderlys, though, the escaped convict soon made a fatal mistake.

Rodney Long picked the wrong home to invade! (Des Moines Register)

Close to 2 a.m., Long went upstairs to continue his search for supplies, only this time he left the shotgun in the downstairs kitchen. Jerome Mauderly saw his chance, snuck into the kitchen and recovered the weapon while his wife phoned the police—on the only phone Long left working no less!

By the time Long came downstairs, Jerome had the shotgun pointed at him.  And since he knew the convict also had a handgun, he wasn’t taking any chances. He fired one shot, which struck Long in the torso and immediately sent him to the floor bleeding. The police arrived a short time later—with the deputy who pursued Long searching for him less than 200 yards from the home—and found Long lying on the kitchen floor dead.

Since the Mauderlys acted in self-defense during a home invasion with a clear threat to their lives, no charges have been filed against them. And if Long were still alive to reflect on his decisions, I know one he would love to have back: the choice to invade the home of someone fully prepared to deal with his bullshit.

Nice work, Jerome! And I hope the other prisoners at Clarinda Correctional Facility take notice and go a different route if they ever escape!

Welcome to Tweeder?

The ignorance of some of our fellow brothers and sisters never ceases to amaze me.

In what had to be one of the dumbest moves ever, a worker in a Toronto auto repair shop with a need for some good weed decided to search for some… on Twitter!

Check it out.

Is Tweeding a real thing? (Twitter)

Is Tweeding a real thing? (Twitter)

Unfortunately for this misguided jackass, the York Regional Police caught wind of his request—which obviously went viral—and responded with a tweet of their own.

Didn't anyone tell him the cops use Twitter, too? (York Regional Police/Twitter)

Didn’t anyone tell him the cops use Twitter, too? (York Regional Police/Twitter)

And they didn’t stop there.

Since this pot-smoking genius was dumb enough to include both the name of the car shop and its address, an officer decided to forward his tweet to someone who would likely be interested to learn what his employee was up to: a member of the shop’s board of directors.

The people at Mr. Lube wasted no time in handling Mr. Bong (Twitter)

The people at Mr. Lube wasted no time in handling Mr. Bong (Twitter)

At this point, Cheech’s brain must have started functioning because he immediately tried to cover his tracks, once again on Twitter.

“Never knew weed smokers are more wanted in society than shooters & rapists,” his first tweet read. “Big smh to all of y’all.”

This obviously didn’t satisfy him because his second tweet shifted from defiance to denial: “People really think I’m serious with my tweets? MANNNNN.”

Shortly after his second tweet, our man-with-a-joint-in-his-hand decided to come clean, much like a child who lies and lies until the truth finally comes out and lies no longer work: “Can’t lie, stupid move but would y’all have noticed that tweet if [York Regional Police] didn’t retweet it?”

Sadly, it was too late and the damage had already been done—his last tweet read simply “Just got the call of termination.”

And then he deleted his Twitter account, which was undoubtedly his smartest move in this whole ridiculous situation.

Of course, the story doesn’t end there. York Police followed up with two more tweets, both of which should be considered by anyone hoping to solicit illegal drugs through social networking.

Duh! That's what cops do! (York Regional Police/Twitter)

Duh! That’s what cops do! (York Regional Police/Twitter)

Need weed? Stay the hell off of Twitter! (York Regional Police/Twitter)

Need weed? Stay the hell off of Twitter! (York Regional Police/Twitter)

Some people just never learn…

Pop-Up Post: The Poot Police

Bud bust by the butt (beforeitsnews.com)

The science and technology of law enforcement has evolved rapidly in the last twenty or thirty years. From the development of pepper spray and the widespread use of computers in the 1980s to the announcement from the National Academy of Sciences that DNA evidence was indeed reliable in the 1990s, law enforcement has changed and improved in an effort to keep pace with crime and more tech-savvy criminals. And personally, I think they’ve done a pretty good job.

The future of law enforcement—at least that bit the public is allowed to see—promises to be even more amazing: scent and sound-based deterrents (for some stinky crowd control); metabolic supplements to produce super-soldiers (think Captain America times thousands); unmanned drones; bullets that can perform “tricks,” like exploding above a target or tracking one from hundreds of meters away; lighter, more impenetrable body armor; microwave deterrent systems (to cook rioters from the inside until they quit raising hell); robotic exoskeletons (Robocop for real); nanotechnology (which should revolutionize almost everything); cloaking devices; and so much more.

Honestly, some of it seems like it’s straight out of a science fiction movie. And criminals better pay attention because these days—and for countless days and years to come—“getting away with it” won’t be as easy as it used to be. The cops have, or soon will have, the technology to sniff out even the most clandestine criminal activities.

Speaking of sniffing out crime, it is important to remember that sometimes nothing can compare to old-fashioned police work. Consider a recent case from Leicester, England—one that illustrates how a nose for crime can often be a cop’s most valuable piece of law enforcement equipment.

A “crack team” of three police officers were cruising around Leicester when one of them suddenly attacked his partners with an unlikely weapon: his ass. Due to a new high-protein diet designed to complement his exercise regime, the flatulent flatfoot unleashed a barrage of smelly farts upon his confined car mates, forcing them to open windows as they gasped for air. And that’s when a nose for crime finally paid off: they smelled cannabis.

It must have been a welcome change from all that “protein shake pooting” in the car, believe me.

The cops investigated and discovered a cannabis factory nearby with a crop worth almost $20,000. Not a bad bust considering it all started with a bad butt.

Any chance we can get more officers on this exercise regimen?

Reality Round-Up: Bad Cop, Worse Cop

Don’t give in to the stereotypes. We ALL love donuts (courtesy of Sign Network)

There are a lot of thankless jobs in this world. And a lot of dedicated people fill these positions despite the lack of courtesy, respect and adequate financial compensation they bring.

At the top of the thankless job list is, of course, the person tasked with serving and protecting the rest of us: the police officer. Even after the horrible attacks of September 11th—which claimed the lives of dozens of police officers—most of the attention went to firefighters. Granted, they deserved it given their bravery and sacrifice—hundreds of them died, after all—but people seemed to forget the cops. And sadly, this isn’t very surprising.

When I was young—I can’t remember the exact age, but pretty early on—I trusted police officers. A few even came to my elementary school to talk to us kids about the job they do. They gave us safety tips, advised us on how to deal with strangers and made law enforcement seem like the most exciting job in the whole, wide world.

Then something changed.

Again, I can’t remember the exact timing, but I suspect it happened during my pre-teen years… around the time that most of us start experimenting with this or that, bending the law and challenging authority. Instead of allies in the battle against evil, the police became the evil. They were the ones who would bust you, call your folks, plaster your name all over the newspaper and basically ruin your life, and for what? Rolling someone’s house in toilet paper, drinking a couple of beers you stole from your old man or kissing and hugging in some wooded area of a public park?

These are just examples, of course. I never actually did any of those things… as far as you know.

As time went on, I started to re-develop the respect I had for police officers. The turning point came in high school when career day rolled around and I decided to spend mine with the local police department. A few friends of mine had the same idea, so instead of driving to school one Friday morning, we met outside city hall and parked among the blue lights we feared so much at parties.

It’s tough for me to remember all the details of that day—the unfortunate consequence of age and some other questionable choices—but I do recall it being both informative and fun. We sat through a drug demonstration where cops showed us everything from marijuana and speed to cocaine and heroin. They locked us in a holding cell for a few minutes longer than I would have liked, which I now see was the point.

It must have worked, because I haven’t been back since.

I also remember being allowed into the evidence room which, in my town, means it was full of guns: Tech-9s, AK-47 replicas, AR-15s and all sorts of assorted, modified and basically cheap weapons. Then came the scariest part: the lie detector test.

The lucky officer assigned to babysit us was, I must say, pretty kind when it was my turn in the hot seat. He asked the usual baseline questions: name, age, address. Then came the trickier stuff: Have you ever stolen something? Did you ever lie to your parents? Have you consumed alcohol despite being underage?

The infamous mugshot. The real crime was obviously my hair style!

The infamous mugshot. The real crime was obviously my hair style!

I answered everything honestly because at that point in my life, I really had nothing to hide. I still don’t, of course, but the story is a little darker now than it was at 16 or 17—kind of like graduating from PG to R or NC-17 movies.

The best thing about career day with the “boys in blue” was that just before we left, our guide took us into the room where they take mug shots and let us all take one as a souvenir. I even got to keep my sunglasses on which, I can tell you, impressed more than one person in the following years.

Unfortunately, none of them were women, but you can’t win them all.

These days, I have friends working in law enforcement, including people I knew from school, acquaintances and, in a few cases, family members. Hell, I originally went to college for a criminal justice degree, fully intending to join the ranks of the SBI, FBI or some other government agency. So the days of sweating when a cop pulls me over, dashing into the woods at the first sign of blue lights or referring to police officers as “pigs” or “the fuzz” are long gone. And in most cases, I assume the cops can be trusted and are doing what they’re supposed to: serving the public and protecting us from harm.

Of course, I’m not naïve enough to think there aren’t some bad apples in the proverbial bunch who affect public perception more than the countless others who save lives and stop crime. Stories of officers abusing their authority or overstepping their bounds saturate the news daily, so pulling a few together for this edition of the Reality Round-Up was not a difficult task. However, it is a task I feel is worthy since ultimately, my goal in writing about bad cop, worse cop is to show how the misguided actions of a few should not used to judge the efforts of the many. For every cop who accepts a bribe, uses excessive force or pockets some drug money, there are thousands of others who do their jobs and, more importantly, do good.

These are the people I hope to honor as we examine some “shield-bearers” who lost their way, but should not be viewed as representative of all police officers. If that were the case, I’m fairly certain our civilization would have collapsed by now. Heaven forbid.

NEW PORT RICHEY, FLORIDA

If ever there were a law enforcement officer who succumbed to the stresses of his position, it would be 45-year-old Norman Grant, a Pasco County detention deputy at Land O’Lakes Jail.

And no, I don’t think the jail was named after the famous butter. I could be wrong, though.

On June 20th, a teenage inmate started to bang his head into his cell door, resulting in him being handcuffed and placed in a restraining chair—standard procedure in a situation like this, as I understand it. Unfortunately, the restraints were too tight and the inmate kept complaining. Eventually, his complaints pushed Grant to the edge and, in a fit of rage, he grabbed the 16-year-old prisoner by the throat, squeezed so tightly that he couldn’t breathe and whispered, “Stop or I’ll break your neck.”

A counselor was called in to help and the young man immediately described what happened, his story reinforced by the bruises and abrasions on his neck. When investigators pulled the surveillance video to see if it supported his story, they quickly learned that he was telling the truth. As a result, Grant was charged with using excessive force and fired.

Some people just aren’t cut out for this type of work, I suppose. And though we all give in to anger and do things we regret from time to time—sometimes of a physical nature (I have been known to smash things when rage overtakes me, but they always belong to me and I always hate myself later)—there is no excuse for attacking someone who is both unarmed and restrained.

Mills is pushed to his breaking point in “Seven” (courtesy of New Line)

It’s like the scene at the end of the Brad Pitt-Morgan Freeman film Seven when Detective Mills realizes that the killer—played expertly by Kevin Spacey—murdered his pregnant wife and had her head delivered to him by some shipping company. Despite having the killer in handcuffs and kneeling on the ground, Mills cannot control his anger and grief and does the unthinkable: he kills him and riddles his body with bullets. Granted, he had his reasons and the killer deserved to die, but it still didn’t excuse his behavior. The same can be said for Norman Grant, and now his inability to control himself cost him his job. Not too bright.

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

Every so often, you hear about a police officer who is so troubled that you wonder how anyone could hire him to serve and protect the public. One such officer is 42-year-old Daniel Lopez of the San Antonio Police Department.

Despite being an 11-year veteran of the department, Lopez has struggled in his personal life and has been reviewed and investigated numerous times, the first coming four years ago. Then in June, he was placed on administrative leave after an incident at his home where he fired his service weapon into the air. His gun was taken from him, of course, but that certainly didn’t stop him from wreaking even more havoc this past week.

On Thursday, officers were called to Lopez’s residence to investigate a domestic disturbance. When they arrived, they learned that the off-duty officer was in the house with a gun and had at one point held it to his wife’s head in front of their children. The cops surrounded the house and blocked off several streets, but fortunately Lopez surrendered a short time later without incident. He has now been charged with deadly conduct and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, his bond being set around $85,000.

Lopez was placed on administrative leave, of course, but I suggest terminating him altogether. After all, this is a man whose pattern of bad—even criminal—behavior dates back almost five years. And though I know nothing about his first “incident,” it seems as if each subsequent one has been more serious and more dangerous.

Do we seriously have to wait until this guy slaughters his entire family before we take action or get him the help he seems to need so desperately?

MISSION, KANSAS

Officers in Mission, Kansas have come under the microscope after a disgruntled husband posted a video to YouTube that showed several of them arresting his wife last March. The video even includes dash cam footage from one of the police vehicles that, to me, substantiates his claim that undue force was used by authorities.

Check it out HERE and see if you agree.

Cops take mom down (courtesy of KCTV-5)

As I understand it, the woman was rushing to the post office—two small children in tow—to deliver some packages for her husband, who has an online business and needed to get them shipped to customers immediately. According to her husband, she arrived a few minutes before closing, but found the office locked up early. She knocked several times and never got a response, so she decided to use the drop box instead. And that’s when the problems started.

A postal worker called police and reported that the woman was irate, banging on the walls, threatening her and even putting rocks in the drop box. She must have been unaware of the call because when the first officer arrived on the scene, she was in her van with her children. The officer asked her to exit the vehicle and began questioning her on the passenger side of the van. When the second officer arrived, however—the one with the dash cam I mentioned—things took a turn for the worst.

According to the official incident report, the woman was uncooperative and at one point turned away from the first officer as if she were trying to free herself. A struggle ensued—which to me seemed to be prompted by the officer—and the arrival of the second cop only intensified their aggressive behavior. They slammed the woman to the ground violently, cuffed her and then started rifling through her purse, an act the mother of two did not appreciate.

“Really? Are you shuffling through my purse?” she asked the female officer who was snooping through her belongings. “You have no right to shuffle through my things.” And the response she got in return was classic sarcasm.

“Yes,” the officer told her. “Where’d you get your law degree?”

This was followed by an arrest—in full view of the mother’s screaming children—as well as a cavity search once she arrived at the police station. And even though the woman explained time and time again that her kids were putting pebbles into the drop box—while she yelled for them to stop, which explained why she seemed so frazzled and irritated—no one would listen. This perceived injustice is what prompted the husband to post that crazy YouTube video.

Of course, the Mission Police Department claimed that no unnecessary actions were taken during the arrest and as such, Officers Pierce and Gift received no punishment. I understand how dangerous police work can be—and how officers have to take certain precautions in order to protect themselves—but body slamming a seemingly harmless woman to the asphalt in full view of her scared, screaming children seems pretty excessive. Unfortunately, when it’s your word against the cops—and despite having video evidence to support your allegations—the odds are you’re still going to lose. And to me, that’s a big reason why some people will never trust the police… including this poor couple.

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Although this next story does not involve an active police officer—rather a former Customs and Border Protection officer—it still illustrates how corrupt and unethical some law enforcement professionals can be.

The Calexico Port of Entry (courtesy of Birdair)

Oscar Osbaldo Ortiz-Martinez, a 33-year-old previously assigned to the Calexico Port of Entry, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison last week for bribery and conspiring to import controlled substances into the U.S. Apparently, he and his accomplice, Victor Manuel Silva Jr., agreed to work with drug traffickers and allowed them to smuggle illegal narcotics through their inspection lane. Five to twelve kilos of cocaine would earn them $20,000, while 15 kilos of methamphetamine netted them a cool $30,000.

Unfortunately for these would-be smugglers, the drug traffickers they worked for turned out to be undercover federal agents. Ortiz accepted $20K from them and was on his way to pick up another $30K from an informant when he was arrested. Silva was arrested the next day, but rolled over on his partner in exchange for a lesser sentence—conspiracy to import at least five kilos of cocaine.

Jumping at the chance to make some “easy money” is one thing. But when you have to violate federal laws to do it—especially when you allow drugs to enter our country, knowing full well how devastating they can be—you certainly deserve to be punished for it. And personally, it’s a little hard for me to understand Ortiz and Silva’s motivation. On average, border patrol officers make $64,000 a year—more than two meth shipments would have made these idiots. Instead of enjoying a windfall of cash, though, these guys are going to spend a number of years in prison with no income, no job and, when they are released, no substantial job prospects.

I hope it was worth it.

HOUSTON, TEXAS

Our final example of bad cops spoiling the good names of police officers everywhere comes from the great state of Texas. As you know, everything’s big in Texas—and that includes abuse by a handful of law enforcement misfits.

Brandy Hamilton and her friend Alexandria Randle decided to spend Memorial Day of last year in beautiful Surfside, a beach community near Houston and resting peacefully along the Gulf of Mexico—when there isn’t a hurricane in the forecast, that is. After a fun and relaxing vacation, they were returning home and driving down Highway 288—possibly going a little faster than they should—when a state trooper hit his lights and pulled them over.

Trooper Nathaniel Turner approached the vehicle and informed the women they had been pulled for speeding. The audio from his dash cam actually recorded him saying this. Then, his demeanor changed dramatically and the trooper claimed that he smelled something.

“There is an odor of marijuana in the vehicle,” he told them. “I’m going to be searching the vehicle.”

And this was when things got weird.

Turner then called for a female trooper to come and search the women—he would later claim that the passenger had her zipper open, as if she just shoved some weed into her hoo-hah. He also claimed to have found a joint, but I’m not sure if this was confirmed.

At any rate, both Hamilton and Randle were subjected to roadside body cavity searches, neither of which revealed anything illegal—unless you include the violation of their constitutional rights, that is. I even heard that one of the dash cams recorded the pained expression on Hamilton’s face as Trooper Jennie Bui invaded her private areas. Unbelievable.

In the end—and after 40 minutes of discomfort, to say the least—Turner wrote Hamilton a possession ticket, warned her about speeding and released she and Randle so they could return home. Little did he know that less than a year later, these same women would thank him… in court.

They do the job the rest of us don’t want to (courtesy of eBay)

As it turned out, a couple of Brazoria County deputies were in the area that fateful day and witnessed the cavity searches. And the Texas Department of Public Safety moved quickly to rectify the situation. Trooper Bui was immediately terminated, while Trooper Turner was suspended pending the outcome of an investigation. If you ask me, it’s only a matter of time before he loses his job, too.

This actually works as a pretty good end to this edition of the Reality Round-Up since the firings of Bui and, soon enough, Turner, mean that two bad cops will be off the streets. It also means that justice was served, despite being absent from so many incidents like these under normal circumstances.

Ultimately, though, what we need to remember is this: law enforcement officers—regardless of department, state, jurisdiction or anything else—are not evil, power-mad hypocrites bent on ruining the lives of regular citizens like you and me. Most of them join the force because they believe in helping and protecting others. They put their lives on the line for people who, for the most part, either fear or dislike them—all because a few individuals abused the position and got more play in the media. But for each bad cop—for each worse cop—there are countless better cops out there doing their jobs with honor, integrity and—believe it or not—love.

And for that, I salute them.

A Shocking Experience

English: Police issue X26 TASER Deutsch: Ein T...

Don’t point that thing at me! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Career Day at elementary schools across the nation can be very exciting for students as they meet new people and explore some of the jobs that could be waiting for them once they complete their educations.

It can also be a shocking experience, as one 10-year-old learned the hard way during the May 4th Career Day at Tularosa New Mexico Intermediate School in Albuquerque.

The boy (R.D.) and his class were on the playground listening to a presentation by police officer Christopher Webb. At one point, Webb joked with several boys and asked if they would be willing to wash his patrol car. A number of the boys agreed, but R.D. joked that he would be unwilling to help.

At this point, and also joking himself, Officer Webb pulled out a stun gun, pointed it at R.D. and said, “Let me show you what happens to people who do not listen to the police.”

That’s when the Taser accidentally discharged and sent two probes into R.D.’s chest, pumping 50,000 volts of electricity into his tiny body and causing him to black out. The probes also left two burns on R.D. that look like cigarette burns.

R.D.’s family is now suing the police department for behavior they rightfully deem reckless. Even worse is the fact that R.D. now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and often wakes up in the middle of the night “holding his chest, afraid he is never going to wake up again,” according to his lawyer.

Officer Webb has been suspended for three days without pay and may soon have his day in court. Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were settled out of court, even though the damage of bad publicity has already been done.

Maybe next year, the school will find Career Day participants who aren’t authorized to carry dangerous weapons. Just a thought…

Confessions of the “Speed Freak” killer

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Speed Freak Killers (courtesy of AP and San Quentin)

In the 1980s and 1990s, the San Joaquin Valley of California was terrorized by the “Speed Freakserial killers, as methamphetamine freaks Wesley Shermantine and Loren Herzog came to be known. Together, their body count stands at 22, mostly young women and girls, but could rise to 70 or more once all is said and done.

The killers were finally caught in 2001 and convicted of multiple murders. Shermantine remains in prison, while Herzog served 11 years and then hung himself this past January. Unfortunately, anything Herzog knew about his victims’ burial places went with him to the grave. And until recently, Shermantine wasn’t talking.

Now it appears things have changed. A bounty hunter offered Shermantine some cash for information of his victims’ whereabouts and he took the deal. The scribbled maps he drew led authorities to the remains of five victims, finally bringing some closure for their grieving families.

Shermantine continues to map locations for authorities and has even visited some of the sites under armed guard. The results of these “probes” have yet to be released, but the families of still-undiscovered victims are hopeful.

“I want to get her out of wherever she is,” said Sue Kizer, the mother of 18-year-old victim Gayle Marks. “We’re tired of waiting.”

The wait may soon be over thanks to the very man responsible for these heinous crimes. Life is nothing if not ironic.

Jimmy Hoffa found?

Jimmy Hoffa

Jimmy Hoffa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A man dying of cancer in Roseville, Michigan, recently told authorities that the body of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa might be buried beneath a driveway in suburban Detroit.

Hoffa disappeared more than 35 years ago under very mysterious circumstances, but his body was never found. And conspiracy theories about his ultimate demise abound. Was Hoffa murdered by mobsters and encased in the cement foundation of Giants Stadium? Was he dumped in a swamp? Dissolved in acid?

No one really knows. And none of these “leads” have ever panned out.

Is it possible this could change given this new discovery? Most law enforcement officials think not, but there is an investigation underway.

Last week, authorities used ground-penetrating radar on the site and discovered an anomaly in the soil below. This indicated that yes, the ground had been disturbed at some point. Soil samples are now being collected to determine if a decomposed body is buried there.

“We are not claiming it’s Jimmy Hoffa because the timeline doesn’t add up,” explained Roseville Police Chief James Berlin. “We’re investigating a body that may be at the location.”

Whether or not this is really Jimmy Hoffa’s burial place remains to be seen, but additional information should be available soon.

Jimmy Hoffa was last seen leaving a restaurant outside Detroit in July 1975 and getting into a car with a Teamsters boss and a mafia captain. The dying man who thinks Hoffa’s body is buried under that driveway said that he saw several men burying a large black bag in that location shortly after Hoffa’s disappearance.

Frame 352 from the film, alleged to depict a f...

Bigfoot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I hope this brings an end to the mystery surrounding Hoffa’s disappearance, I’m fairly certain he will never be found. It’s been 35 years and endless leads have been investigated, but still nothing has ever been found. Whoever disposed of his body did a thorough job and I seriously doubt they buried him under a driveway in suburbia.

Of course, I’ll still be waiting for the results of the investigation with great anticipation. And if it really is Hoffa, we can finally put his case to rest and focus on solving another mystery.

Watch out, Bigfoot, because you might be next!

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